Uncovering Hidden Text on a 500-Year-Old Map That Guided Columbus
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Dr. Roger Easton featured

Sep. 15, 2014
Greg Miller
The 1491 Martellus map.

The 1491 Martellus map (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

Christopher Columbus probably used the map above as he planned his first voyage across the Atlantic in 1492. It represents much of what Europeans knew about geography on the verge discovering the New World, and it’s packed with text historians would love to read—if only the faded paint and five centuries of wear and tear hadn’t rendered most of it illegible.

But that’s about to change. A team of researchers is using a technique called multispectral imaging to uncover the hidden text. They scanned the map last month at Yale University and expect to start extracting readable text in the next few months, says Chet Van Duzer, an independent map scholar who’s leading the project, which was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The map was made in or around 1491 by Henricus Martellus, a German cartographer working in Florence. It’s not known how many were made, but Yale owns the only surviving copy. It’s a big map, especially for its time: about 4 by 6.5 feet. “It’s a substantial map, meant to be hung on a wall,” Van Duzer said.

The Martellus map, in position for multispectral imaging.

The Martellus map during preparations for multispectral imaging.  Chet Van Duzer

The Martellus map is interesting for several historic reasons, Van Duzer says. One is it’s relevance to Columbus. “It’s extremely likely, just about unquestionable that Christopher Columbus saw this map or a very similar one made by the same cartographer, and that the map influenced his thinking about the world’s geography,” Van Duzer said.

There are several lines of evidence for this, Van Duzer says. Columbus sailed west from the Canary Islands hoping to find a new trade route to Asia. Writings by Columbus and his son suggest that he began searching for Japan in the region where it appears on the Martellus map, and that he expected to find the island running north to south, as it does on the Martellus map, but not on any other surviving map made before his voyage. (You can see Japan floating too far off the coast of Asia in the top right corner of Martellus’s map above).

Of course, what Columbus found instead was something Martellus hadn’t known about—the New World.

Martin Waldseemüller's 1507 map was influenced by Martellus's earlier map.

Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map was influenced by the earlier map by Martellus (click to enlarge).  Library of Congress

Martellus’s map was also a big influence on Martin Waldseemüller, another German cartographer whose 1507 map is the first to apply the name “America” to the New World. The Library of Congress purchased the only surviving copy of Waldseeüller’s map in 2003 for $10 million. “There are many places where the same information was in the same place on the two maps,” Van Duzer said. “The layout is very similar, a lot of the decorative elements are very similar.”

What isn’t known, because of the condition of the Martellus map, is how similar the text on the two maps is. “One of the most exciting images I’ve ever seen of a map is an ultraviolet image of the Martellus map taken in the early ’60s,” Van Duzer said. “If you look at eastern Asia with natural light, if you look closely, you get a hint that there’s text there, but if you look in ultraviolet light suddenly you see that there’s text everywhere.”

Most of the text still isn’t legible in those older UV images, but some of the parts that are appear to be drawn from the travels of Marco Polo through east Asia. There are also indications of where sailors could expect to find sea monsters or pearls. “In northern Asia, Martellus talks about this race of wild people who don’t have any wine or grain but live off the flesh of deer and ride deer-like horses,” Van Duzer said. Waldseeüller copied much of this.

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it's not normally visible (click to enlarge).

A photo of the Martellus map taken in 1960 with ultraviolet light (right) reveals text in places where it’s not normally visible (click to enlarge).  Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

There are also interesting differences between the two maps. Waldseeüller gets the shape of Africa more or less right, but on the Martellus map, southern Africa juts out way too far to the east (Africa is on the left side of both maps). In addition, Martellus’s depiction of rivers and mountains in the interior of southern Africa, along with place names there, appear to be based on African sources. It’s likely that this information came from an African delegation that visited the Council of Florence in 1441 and interacted with European geographers. Three other surviving maps contain some of this same information, but the Martellus map covers more territory than any of them, making it the most complete surviving representation of Africans’ geographic knowledge of their continent in the 15th century. “In my mind, that’s absolutely amazing,” Van Duzer said.

Van Duzer hopes to learn more about Martellus’s sources from the new images the team is creating. Scanning the map only took a day, after two and a half days of set up, he says. The team used an automated camera system developed by a digital imaging company called Megavision. The system uses LEDs to deliver light within a narrow band of wavelengths and minimize the amount of heat and light the map was exposed to. The camera has a quartz lens, which transmits ultraviolet light better than glass. The team photographed 55 overlapping tiles of the map, using 12 different types of illumination, ranging from ultraviolet to infrared.

Conceptually, the process isn’t very complicated, says team member Roger Easton, an expert on imaging historical manuscripts at the Rochester Institute of Technology. “We’re really just looking at the object under different colors of light and trying to find the combination of images that best enhance whatever it is that we’re trying to see.”

But extracting legible text from all those images will take a lot of imaging processing and analysis, and a lot of trial and error, Easton says. A combination that works on one part of the map might be useless for another part. “It depends on the details of how the map has eroded or how the color of the pigments has changed,” Easton said. “Different pigments reflect different wavelengths of light, and they deteriorate differently too.”

When the project is complete, probably sometime next year, the images will be available for scholars and the general public to examine on the website of theBeinecke Digital Library at Yale.

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Original Source: Wired

Multispectral imaging used to reveal map’s secrets
Cultural Artifact and Document Imaging

Aug. 15, 2014
Amanda Buckingham

This week at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, from August 11-19, an interdisciplinary team is at work on a multispectral imaging project to facilitate the study of a 15th century world map by cartographer Henricus Martellus. The map likely influenced Christopher Columbus and is representative of his geographical views.

The map, which is typically on display to the left of the Beinecke’s service desk, has been relatively unexamined following a peak in interest after its acquisition in the 1960s because it is largely illegible. Efforts to image the map in the ‘60s using UV light revealed that the text could be recovered through such techniques, though it was not until the past decade that technology developed that could reveal all of its secrets.

“The map is a wonderful candidate for multispectral imaging,” the project’s principle investigator Chet Van Duzer said.

About 4 by 6.5 feet in scale, the map is sizable, spanning the Atlantic Ocean to Japan. It is also quite text rich in its Latin descriptions of lands and their human occupants. The paint employed in writing the Latin text has, however, faded to roughly the color of its background and the map itself has sustained wear.

Van Duzer said that the map is particularly interesting in that it depicts Japan with a North-South orientation, unlike any other surviving map at the time. He added that Ferdinand Columbus remarked that had his father not believed in this notion, Christopher Columbus would have found Japan, as opposed to discovering the New World.

The origins of the project date to 2010, during which Van Duzer studied new images of the map made using UV, infrared, and visible light. He noted striking similarities in content and text position to Martin Waldseemüller’s 1507 map, suggesting an “intimate” relationship between the two. Waldseemüller’s map, well-known in the 16th century, was the first to refer to the New World as ‘America.’

After speaking with a representative from the Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program, Van Duzer successfully applied for a grant to allow for images to be made for scholars’ further study.

Van Duzer is joined by MegaVision president Kenneth Boydston, head of the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library Michael Phelps, multispectral imaging expert Roger Easton and Lazarus Project head Gregory Heyworth. This week, images have been taken at 12 different wavelengths of light, falling within the UV, ultraviolent, and infrared portions of the spectrum, which will subsequently be stitched together to form a coherent image.

According to Heyworth, the team has divided the map into 55 overlapping regions, or tiles, that will be composed of 22 shots per tile. He said that the camera technology, which Boydston helped to design, is novel in its ability to focus across the entire spectrum of light. Laser focusing also allows for improved image quality at wrinkled parts of the map.

Van Duzer said that the team has already imaged the entire map once and is currently in the process of re-imaging in order to reduce the prospect of errors. He said that while the large size of the map was perceived to be a challenge, an upright easel has been useful in counteracting the problem.

The images are to be processed with the support of the Lazarus Project at the University of Mississippi, using algorithms designed to increase the resolution of the previously illegible text. Afterwards, they will be rendered into natural light, gray-scale, and false-color images for enhanced contrast viewing.

In conjunction with the Beinecke Digital Library, metadata will be assigned to the images taken in order to provide more information about the imaging conditions. The images will eventually become available through the Beinecke Digital Library website. Heyworth estimated that the process of developing versions of the map targeted for researchers would take about six months, with a small jpeg image ready much earlier.

“We try to take images that will be part of the historical record for many generations to come so that the object will not have to be reimaged and exposed,” Heyworth said.

Members of the imaging team are giving talks, which are open to the public, at the Beinecke this week about the various aspects of the project.

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Original Source: Yale Daily News

RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science adds environmental imaging expert
Remote Sensing

Charles “Chip” Bachmann joins RIT from Naval Research Laboratory

Jan. 29, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


A leader in the field of environmental imaging research has recently joined the Rochester Institute of Technology Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Charles “Chip” Bachmann, the new Frederick and Anna B. Wiedman Professor in Imaging Science, comes to RIT with 23 years of experience as a civilian research scientist at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C.

Bachmann specializes in coastal remote sensing and image processing. He most recently headed the Naval Research Laboratory’s Coastal Science and Interpretation Section in the Coastal and Ocean Remote Sensing Branch. He has planned and executed campaigns to collect measurements of physical and optical properties in water and on land around the world.

He holds two patents, with a third pending, for software developed to synthesize aerial imagery and ground truth into physical models.

Bachmann’s research program at RIT will focus on developing digital models across different coastal types. His research will account for various types of sands and sediment found along coastlines and the effects of inundation of water and the drying process, among other dynamic variables.

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Original Source: RIT University News

Why is the sky blue? Visiting scientist explains natural optical phenomena, May 9

RIT’s SPIE/OSA Student Chapter hosts free event

May. 6, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz

The science behind natural optical phenomena—colors in the sky, rainbows, halos, coronas, iridescence, glories, glitter patterns and auroras—will be the topic of a free talk at Rochester Institute of Technology this week.


(Provided photo)

Joseph Shaw, professor of optics and photonics and electrical and computer engineering at Montana State University, will present “Optics in Nature: A photographic tour,” at 2 p.m. on May 9 in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science Auditorium. The event is hosted by the RIT International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE)/Optical Society of America (OSA) Student Chapter.

Shaw, a fellow of SPIE and OSA, will use a combination of photographs and optical diagrams to illustrate examples of optical scattering, diffraction, refraction, reflection and emission for a general audience.

He develops optical remote sensing systems to study climate, weather and natural ecosystems. Shaw’s current research uses polarimetric and radiometric imaging and Lidar, or light detection and ranging, which uses laser pulses to measure distances.

For more information, contact the SPIE/OSA student chapter.

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Original Source: University News

Wanted: Scientists to operate complex imaging systems
Student Stories
Remote Sensing

The U.S. workforce is undergoing a generational shift as baby boomers near retirement age. The national defense and intelligence communities, in particular, stand to lose scientists and engineers with decades of experience in imaging systems that track environmental change, natural disasters, peacekeeping efforts and matters related to homeland security.

Mar. 24, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz



Matthew Montanaro ’05, ’09                                                Ariel Schlamm ’06, ’10

In an effort to put the issue on the national agenda, experts from RIT, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) and the imaging industry shared their concerns with Congressional representatives, aides and staff from the House Armed Services Committee and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence late last year. U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-Fairport, sponsored the briefing.

The RIT initiative drew upon a report written by the Subcommittee on Technical and Tactical Intelligence in 2008 for the U.S. House of Representatives, which calls for workforce development in imaging science and remote sensing and partnerships with universities.

RIT President Bill Destler, Professor David Messinger and industry representatives who attended the Dec. 3 event emphasized the need to cultivate the next generation of scientists and engineers to develop, build and operate complex imaging systems.

The university presented itself as part of the solution and sought sustained funding to produce more Ph.D. students and research critical to the defense and intelligence communities.

“We feel that we can graduate more students every year out into the field with the science and technical background to understand the capabilities of an imaging system, what it can and can’t do and how to process the image to get the information you want out of it,” said Messinger, associate research professor and director of the Digital Imaging and Remote Sensing Laboratory in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science.

Building relationships

Federal agencies looking to hire U.S. citizens to fill defense and intelligence positions are facing a workforce shortage and a knowledge gap, said Stefi Baum, professor and director of the Center for Imaging Science.

“The U.S. has not been good at training U.S. citizen Ph.D.s in the STEM fields, and for agencies doing security-related work, it’s a huge problem,” Baum said. “The U.S. has had 20 years of not producing scientists and engineers to feed into that and has been relying on people who are from the Sputnik era who are retiring. There’s a large awareness of that but exactly what to do about it hasn’t been well addressed.”

The Center for Imaging Science seeks to grow its remote sensing lab and its other related imaging laboratories through sustained relationships with the federal departments and agencies that routinely hire RIT graduates. Messinger and Baum envision targeted recruitment of imaging science graduates akin to Toyota’s formal courtship of RIT’s mechanical and automotive engineers.

Prior to the Congressional briefing, Destler and Messinger met with key members of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency to discuss starting a formal relationship with RIT’s imaging science program. RIT Board of Trustee member Jeffrey Harris ’75 (photographic science and instrumentation), chairman of the Open Geospatial Consortium and a former director of the National Reconnaissance Office, acted as their primary contact with the agency.

Harris described his experience working with imaging science graduates while he served in both government and industry as “having the right skills on the team.”

“The STEM-educated, tech-savvy specialist—competent with imaging systems—is a valued member of the new integrated-information eco-system,” he said.

According to Messinger, 10 to 15 percent—or 13 RIT alumni, mostly with imaging science and photo technology degrees—“dominate” the NGA’s image science group. Team leader, retired U.S. Air Force Officer Michael Foster ’07 (imaging science), NGA Image Science Integration Lead in the Office of Sciences and Methodologies, earned his Ph.D. through an Air Force advanced education program that sends officers to study imaging science at RIT.

“Clearly, we’re doing something valuable because their human resources people are hiring our graduates for these critical positions,” Messinger said. “But there is no longer-term strategy.”

Center for Imaging Science

Messinger met in January with the head of human resources and other specialists to further explore a strategic relationship between the NGA and RIT, including on-site training for scientists at the agency. Discussion with the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency remains ongoing.

“We hope to convince the NGA and other governmental agencies to generate a significant amount of funding to support five to 15 graduate students a year,” Messinger said.

The Center for Imaging Science graduates approximately 10 to 15 undergraduate and 20 master and doctoral students per year. The undergraduate program hovers between 40 and 50 students, while the graduate program claims 110 to 115 students.

“Even if we produce 20 Ph.D.s a year, that makes a big difference because one of these people with this kind of training can influence a large swath of the industry and federal capability,” Baum said. “The difference is in what they can do and in their multiplying effect. They can help train the others around them and provide this imaging-systems perspective that people trained in very specific aspects may not have.”

Imaging systems attached to planes or satellites juxtapose optical cameras side by side with infrared sensors to capture information beyond what the human eye can see. Some imaging scientists develop the instrumentation to collect data; others write the algorithms, or computer programs, that turn data into useful information by processing and interpreting imaging data and creating geospatially accurate maps.

“Typically, agencies will have to train physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists or engineers as much as they can in the imaging system,” Baum said.

“RIT brings everything together in an interdisciplinary way. It’s math, physics, engineering—and we produce a student who is an imaging scientist—and those people have a different level of understanding and knowledge of the end-to-end system of imaging—how to apply imaging systems, how to design them, commission them, do the program management for them, how to make sure that they’re going to get the imaging system that will attain the results they need.”

Adds Baum, “It’s not enough to take the end data and write an algorithm for it if you don’t understand how to develop the system that takes the data.”

Matthew Montanaro ’05, ’09 (physics, imaging science) came to imaging science with a physics background and appreciates the end-to-end perspective he has developed.

“Having my physics degree was a good base to have but my graduate project forced me to become familiar with engineering and computer science and technical writing,” said Montanaro, a Landsat calibration scientist who works for the Sigma Space Corp. as a contractor to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “It definitely made me more rounded in terms of technical skills that really allowed me to be desirable to an organization like NASA.”

The nuances of imaging science are a product of the education, he said.

“I think that having the imaging science background allows us to be sort of an interface between the engineers building the sensors and the scientists and analysts who use the data,” Montanaro said. “That’s very beneficial out in the workforce since it lets you see the big picture. You can see how all aspects of the imaging system tie together.”

Ariel Schlamm ’06, ’10 (imaging and photographic technology, imaging science) is a senior sensor systems engineer at the MITRE Corp., a federally funded research-and-development center in McLean, Va.

Schlamm applies her strong mathematical background to evaluating the quality of remotely sensed imagery and developing algorithms for extracting information from images. She attributes her imaging-science coursework to her easy transition from graduate student to team member “working on remote sensing technologies, with little or no time required for training and getting up to speed.”

Graduates from RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science have a good reputation for being able to “dive in quickly,” she said.

“In the defense community, when people find out you have a degree from RIT in imaging science, they immediately trust your abilities and understand what you can bring to a project,” Schlamm said. “Often those who work with us say they wish they could hire more graduates of CIS, but unfortunately there aren’t enough of us graduating each year.”

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Original Source: University News

Female faculty ‘Lean In’ toward successful recognition of academic work

Connectivity session panel provides strategic, practical advice for advancing in academia

May. 14, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


Michelle Cometa

RIT faculty Manuela Campanelli, left, Callie Babbitt and Kara Maki discussed strategies for increasing recognition of academic work as part of a professional development panel sponsored by AdvanceRIT.

“Talking can transform minds, which can transform behaviors, which can transform institutions.” - Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer, Facebook

Nearly 20 female faculty from across campus and at varied stages of their careers “leaned in” this past week for a panel discussion, “Daring Appreciation: Strategies for Increasing Recognition of Your Work.” The event was part of the Connectivity Series, a professional development initiative launched this spring by the AdvanceRIT program, a campus-wide study to decrease institutional barriers to female faculty’s career progression.

The focus of the panel on recognition was based on how rewards and recognition play a part in securing tenure, broadening research initiatives and contacts, and in opening doors to academic service and leadership opportunities as well as promotion.

Panelists were three of the campus’ accomplished female faculty-researchers. They provided strategies about building toward successful recognition including: actively seeking out public forums to discuss work, both on and off campus; relating with senior faculty and campus leadership; developing mentor relationships; and promoting the work of other women, including nominating female peers, or self-nominating for high profile campus awards, committees and leadership positions.

Over a five-year period, from 2007 to 2012, the percentage of RIT campus-based, academic awards received by female faculty was slightly more than 12 percent, according to new research by AdvanceRIT into results of the faculty award process at the university. In this study, the gender distribution of university awards is proposed as an indicator of progress toward achieving parity for female faculty.

Panelists Callie Babbitt, Manuela Campanelli and Kara Maki, all RIT distinguished faculty, have been among that small percentage of female faculty recognized for both effective teaching and influential research. They talked about balancing strategic, purposeful conversations and activities with more personal approaches that allow female faculty to be seen as accomplished as their male counterparts.

Babbitt, assistant professor in RIT’s Golisano Institute for Sustainability, recommended women seek out opportunities to become recognized as subject matter experts by responding to media requests, presenting regularly at conferences, speaking at community events and collaborating on interdisciplinary projects. To her, it is a way to advance information about her field of sustainability and to support efforts of women in STEM fields.

“Recognition for your work is an important part of career advancement,” said Babbitt, a 2013 recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER Development Award. “But it also provides a platform from which I can share advances we’re making in sustainability and help get female students excited about STEM careers.”

Campanelli agreed, and added that being visible allows for different conversations with peers, and seeking out or becoming a mentor. Early in her career, the professor and director of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation had a mentor who was strong in her field and who gave good advice about the sometimes puzzling and lengthy process of looking into, and applying for, research grant opportunities.

“Seek out a mentor and use the experiences that person has to share. Value what they have to give you,” said Campanelli, who recently was designated as one of RIT’s Trustees Scholarship winners, given in recognition of significant contributions to research. (Professor Jennifer Schneider of the College of Applied Science and Technology also received the prestigious award for this academic year.)

What mentors give can vary from informal encouragement toward goals to the more formal recommendations and endorsements for grants, the tenure process or for collaborative projects, said Maki, an assistant professor of mathematics who came to RIT in 2011. She was designated a Rising Star in RIT’s College of Science in 2013. “Sometimes you have to actively seek out and identify allies or advocates—in your field and within your college. For example, sometimes people may ‘tip their hand’ about who they are in the positive review they have written on your paper or grants. I think of these faculty members as advocates.”

Confidence in their abilities, a desire to learn as well as teach, and an understanding that they must support each other was also key to career advancement for the panelists. But it also meant advocating for other women, and “talking about each other’s work,” said Campanelli.

Connectivity Series programming will continue discussions about that work and other professional development strategies for faculty. More information about the series can be found on the AdvanceRIT website, or by contacting the series coordinators, Sharon Mason, associate professor, information sciences and technology, and Carol Marchetti, associate professor, mathematical sciences.

The AdvanceRIT team’s new research, titled “Faculty Awards at a Large Private Institution: An Indicator of Evolving University Values,” will be presented at the 2014 American Society of Engineering Education annual conference scheduled for this June.

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Original Source: University News

RIT professor named to Society for Imaging Science & Technology Board of Directors
Color Science

Susan Farnand to serve as IS&T Vice President of Publications

May. 15, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


Rochester Institute of Technology professor Susan Farnand has been named to a leadership position in the Society for Imaging Science and Technology, also known as IS&T.

Farnand, a professor in the RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science and in the program of Color Science, will serve a two-year term as the IS&T Vice President of Publications, effective July 1.

“It’s an exciting, albeit somewhat challenging, time with new opportunities for the dissemination of information,” said Farnand. “I am looking forward to working with theJournal of Imaging Science & Technology editor and IS&T staff on the society’s publications program, as we strive to make the library, website and other vehicles valuable resources for those working in the broad field of imaging science and technology.”

Farnand, an active society member since 2007, is an associate editor of the Journal of Imaging Science & Technology and a past co-editor of a special issue of the Journal of Electronic Imaging on image quality. She has also chaired the honors and awards committee and participated in previous sessions of the International Conference on Digital Printing Technologies, or NIP, and Image Quality and Systems Performance conferences.

She was among the first cohort to earn her Ph.D. in color science from RIT in 2013. Farnand’s research interests include human color perception and color vision. She also uses eye-tracking technology to study what attracts people’s attention.

Farnand is a resident of Fairport, N.Y.

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Original Source: University News

RIT graduate student wins regional remote-sensing ‘Student of the Year’ award
Remote Sensing
Student Stories

Javier Concha also presented his research at annual imaging conference in Baltimore

May. 15, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz

Rochester Institute of Technology graduate student Javier Concha was named Student of the Year by the Central New York Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

The society selected Concha, a Ph.D. student in RIT’s Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, from applicants in upstate New York, Vermont and north central Pennsylvania. He was awarded a one-year society membership, a certificate and $250 at the annual meeting in Rochester on April 15.

story photo

Javier Concha was named Student of the Year by the Central New York Region of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing.

“This award highlights my perseverance and passion for the field,” Concha said. “It is awesome to be recognized by my peers and scholars. It not only reinforces the importance of doing research but also the benefit of being a part of professional societies in your area of specialty. It opens doors for our future. I strongly encourage students to become members and participate actively of these organizations.”

Concha is also a member of RIT’s SPIE/OSA Student Chapter and will serve as its secretary next year.

Concha, originally from Concepción, Chile, came to RIT on a Fulbright scholarship to work on his master’s degree in the Center for Imaging Science. He earned his MS in 2012 and expects to finish his Ph.D. in spring 2015.

His thesis research explores the use of NASA’s Landsat 8 Earth-imaging satellite for monitoring fresh and coastal waters. Concha works closely with his adviser, RIT research professor John Schott, whose history with the Landsat program dates to the mid 1980s.

Concha shared his current research at the SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics) annual conference in Baltimore May 5–9, where he presented his paper titled, “A model-based ELM for atmospheric correction over Case 2 water with Landsat 8.”

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Original Source: University News

Landsat Calibration/Validation Team members recognized with NASA's Robert H. Goddard Award for Science
Remote Sensing

Three SPIE Fellows and four SPIE Members were recently awarded the Robert H. Goddard Award for Science for their participation on the Landsat 8 Calibration/Validation Team (CVT), which contributed to the characterization, calibration, and performance understanding of the Landsat 8 sensors.

Jun. 10, 2014

Since 1972, Landsat satellites have been amassing information about Earth's land cover to better understand big issues like water use, carbon stocks, and global crop production. The Landsat Calibration/Validation Team ensures that Landsat data users can be confident that measurements made day-to-day, year-to-year, and Landsat sensor-to-sensor are comparable.

SPIE-affiliated team members were:

  • SPIE Fellow Kurtis Thome, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • SPIE Fellow John Schott, Rochester Institute of Technology 

  • SPIE Fellow Stuart Biggar, University of Arizona

  • SPIE Senior Member Jeff Czapla-Myers, University of Arizona

  • SPIE Member Phil Dabney, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • SPIE Member Raviv Levy, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

  • SPIE Student Member Frank Pesta, South Dakota State University

The team, managed by Brian Markham, a longtime Landsat calibration scientist at Goddard, included 52 scientists from Goddard, the U.S. Geological Survey, Ball Aerospace & Technology Corp., South Dakota State University, Rochester Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, and the Jet Propulsion Lab.

Several team members are co-authors of papers scheduled to be presented at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2014, including:

  • "Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI) detector to detector uniformity challenge and performance" [9218-43]

  • "On-orbit performance of the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager" [9218-41]

  • "Landsat-8 data processing evolution" [9218-46]

  • "Performance of the thermal infrared sensor onboard Landsat 8 over the first year on-orbit" [9218-42]

  • "Cross-calibration of Landsat 5 TM, and Landsat 8 OLI with Aqua MODIS using PICS" [9218-19]

  • "Landsat-8 Operational Land Imager on-orbit radiometric calibration and stability" [9218-40]

  • "Chasing the TIRS ghosts: calibrating the Landsat 8 thermal bands" [9218-45]

  • "The absolute radiometric calibration of the Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager using the reflectance-based approach and the Radiometric Calibration Test Site (RadCaTS)" [9218-44]

SPIE Optics + Photonics 2014: http://spie.org/op
Landsat 8 Sweeps the 2013 "Goddards": http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/?p=8028
Landsat Cal/Val Team Receives 2013 Robert H. Goddard Award for Science:http://landsat.gsfc.nasa.gov/?p=8017

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Original Source: spie.org

Imaging tools help radiologists diagnose lung cancer, save lives
Biomedical Imaging

RIT scientists develop imaging software to compare and measure nodules

Jun. 12, 2014
Susan Gawlowicz


Associate professor Nathan Cahill ’97, ’00 (applied mathematics; industrial and applied mathematics), standing, is improving biomedical image computing, the focus of his Ph.D. research. He and imaging science Ph.D. student Kfir Ben Zikri ’11 (electrical engineering) are developing algorithms for a longitudinal study of lung nodules in CT scans. (A. Sue Weisler)

Medical-imaging software under development at Rochester Institute of Technology could someday give radiologists a tool for measuring the growth of nodules in patients at risk of lung cancer, the leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nathan Cahill, an associate professor in RIT’s School of Mathematical Sciences, is creating algorithms to quantify the growth of lung nodules imaged on Computed Tomography (CT) scans. The two-year, longitudinal study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, compares existing scans of individual patients. The algorithms will analyze medical images, measuring changes in nodules to identify small cancers or, if stable, obviate unnecessary, often risky biopsies.

Simple factors can complicate the comparison of CT scans, creating extraneous information in medical images, introducing artifacts and possible errors in diagnosis.

“It’s not an apples-to-apples problem with reliable correspondence between two images,” Cahill said.

Discrepancies between scans of a single patient can result from differences in position and inhalation during imaging. A 10-pound weight gain between CT scans can also affect how surrounding organs push against the lungs and stretch or compress the nodules.

“Having even 1 or 2 millimeters of difference could throw off the estimates of the volumes of the nodules because the size of the nodules might be 5 millimeters or so,” Cahill said. “The goal of this project is to develop an algorithm that tries to compensate for all those potential background factors.”

Dr. David Fetzer, a radiologist at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and a member of the collaboration, suggested the clinical problem. Fetzer, an alumnus from the RIT Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science, had worked as an undergraduate with Maria Helguera, professor in the center, and a member of Cahill’s team.

“Modern CT imaging devices produce hundreds and sometimes thousands of images,” Fetzer said. “If a patient is being followed for an abnormality, such as a lung nodule, a radiologist must compare these images visually, mentally compensating for differences such as patient position. Slight changes in technique between two CT scans may simulate tumor growth, for instance.”

Radiologists compute the doubling time of a nodule, or the range of time it takes for the size of the nodule to increase twofold. A mass that doubles in less than 30 days is growing fast and could be an infection, Cahill said. “If it takes more than one and a half years to double, it’s growing slowly and is probably benign. If it’s anywhere between that—one month and 1.5 years—then, it could be malignant and you have to do further testing and do biopsy.”

Cahill and Kfir Ben Zikri, a Ph.D. student in the Center for Imaging Science, are registering, or aligning, backgrounds to create a common frame of reference between sets of images. The process geometrically transforms one three-dimensional image into another and compensates for background information that blurs edges of nodules, even when underlying diseases like emphysema or fibrosis make intensities in the background brighter.

“Then we can estimate the volumes, which will allow us to more accurately estimate the doubling time and have a better chance to determine if it’s a malignant growth or benign,” Cahill said.

The technology will be part of the free software libraries offered by Kitware, a North Carolina-based, open-source software company that specializes in medical image analyses. Cahill and Ben Zikri work closely with scientists at Kitware and professor Marc Niethammer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Fetzer is selecting 30 CT scans of patients treated for lung cancer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The images are scrubbed of patient-identifying information and sent to Cahill and Ben Zikri. Fetzer will clinically verify the algorithmic results.

“With today’s technology we have the ability to create three-dimensional datasets, volumes of image data that can be manipulated and analyzed in non-visual ways,” Fetzer said. “With techniques such as this we may be able to compensate for background changes and, hopefully, more accurately show growth, assess aggressiveness or prove stability of a nodule. This accurate assessment could dramatically affect patient care, decrease cost and the number unnecessary procedures, and improve outcomes through earlier cancer detection.”

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Original Source: University News